Uncertainty in the Next Step & What CMS to Learn

Hi guys,

So, last week I completed the JavaScript portion of FCC and now have the first two certificates. I’ve been unemployed since July when my last employer cut ties after I confronted them about not paying me… my full salary correctly… for any week I was there. Since then, I’ve taken the opportunity while on unemployment to deep dive into a career and skill set that will prevent me from working at these types of crappy jobs.

Having said that, for some odd reason, my unemployment is not lasting the full 6 months that it normally does and I am about to run out (the nerves). In short, I need a job ASAP. I don’t want to put myself in the position of taking another crap job and leaving them in a short period of time for my career as that looks terrible on my resume.

So, I’m at this weird point where I would normally learn a library like React or Angular, but I am under pressure to find something decent quickly. I’m building a portfolio website and brushing up on soft skills, like GitHub, but one topic confuses me… CMS.

I hear WordPress is a CMS, but any development work with that would require PHP if I heard correctly. Then there are people who say WordPress is for fake developers who don’t code and that I shouldn’t use that. I’m a little confused about what CMS I should learn.

So to recap, in my situation, what would be your course of action, what do you think I should focus on, and what CMS should I learn in your opinion?

Thank you in advance for your help.

CMS’ are quite specific, needing to know some general CMS isn’t actually a particularly common need in most development jobs, they’re just a tool to manage published content. Of you have a really good reason to learn to leverage on then go for it, but it’s not some essential skill. I mean, if every company in your area that you might apply to uses SharePoint, or you’re only going to apply to agencies specialising in churning out marketing sites on WordPress, or the only jobs in your area are with media orgs or whatever sure, but it’s not some critical skill.


Thanks for the advice. Would you say that it’s common to use them in handing off sites for people to edit content or is that usually done for the clients in-house?

WordPress is a very popular platform (more than a third of the web run on it by now). Part of that is because it is very beginner friendly and easy to use. For that reason, it’s a good platform to build client sites with that will be handed off later or where the client wants to manage the content themeselves. There are a lot of web developers who have started building sites with CMS for that very reason.

If you have web development skills, they will come in handy here as well. You can use HTML and CSS to modify themes and templates. However, for modifying functionality, you mostly need PHP and, increasingly, JavaScript. On the other hand, there are a lot of snippets out there that you can copy and modify for your needs, so even if you are not fluent in a language, you can still use it.

In short, if your plan is to earn money building websites for clients, getting into the CMS market is not the worst idea.

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As @nshep says it is a CMS is a useful thing if you, personally, are building a website for someone where it is useful for them to have an admin UI where they can adjust the content. This is quite often unecessary though

They are just a UI layer for input plus some abstraction over output for a database (integrating some templating to generate HTML or JSON or whatever). The issue is that they need to be general and customisable, and as a result they tend to be massive, bloated with features, highly restrictive and painful to develop against. They also need to be maintained, as opposed to services which provide CMS functionality that can be plugged into sites – contentful being I think the leader here.

Note that services like Wix, Squarespace et al can generally now fill the needs WP did fill for people who just want a web presence, and can do it more conveniently.

And for actually building sites, frameworks like Next.js again generally fulfil needs better, and are easier to deal with from a development/deployment point of view. WordPress is still good for blog-like content, but the vast majority of people don’t need blogs, and the aforementioned services will gradually chip away at WP.